Square Enix thinks that cloud gaming is the future, and so the guys there have started a brand new initiative that will explore new ways to use cloud technology in gaming. The initiative, called Project Flare, isn’t just looking to use the cloud to distribute and stream games. According to Square Enix’s Director of Business Development Jacob Nabvok, it will also change the way that games are designed.
"So up until now when we've talked about cloud gaming, we've mostly talking about streaming games," Navok said to Polygon. "They weren't really cloud games to us. Gaikai, OnLive and the other companies were just putting a console in the data center. They weren't actually changing anything about it. There was a shift in the distribution model, there was a shift in the business, but there wasn't a shift in the game design. It wasn't a shift in technology."
When players experience video games on their current consoles, those games are processed locally using the chipset within the player's machine. This single chipset has limits to what it can do, so developers are subsequently limited in what kinds of games and experiences they can design. The games are restricted by the technology. Project Flare aims to remove those restrictions. Instead of having consoles, computers, or any other game-playing electronic device process and render the game's data locally, the rendering is shifted to a virtual supercomputer. This allows for "unlimited processing potential."
For example, different aspects of a game can be handled using different discrete computers. Square produced a demo in which all the physics calculations in Deus Ex: Human Revolution were all calculated on one chipset, making it very easy to have tons of objects interacting with each other at once. Another demo allowed a Final Fantasy XIV player to stream real-time video of all the other members of his party at once in order to keep tabs on exactly what was going on.
On one hand, this new technology does mean some good things for the future of cloud gaming. On the other hand, it sort of feels like Square Enix is just chasing buzzwords at this point. After all, the company is also starting a crowdfunding initiative, and we still aren’t particularly sure what that’s supposed to do.
Senior Contributing Writer